(USA Today) -- The New York Jets reshaped their quarterback situation Friday evening by releasing former starter Mark Sanchez and signing veteran Michael Vick.
Vick will compete with 2013 second-round pick Geno Smith, who started every game as a rookie last year. Sanchez missed the entire season with a shoulder injury suffered in a preseason game after he had seemingly put himself in position to win a competition with Smith for the starting job.
Instead, Sanchez's tenure with the Jets is over. The team would have had to pay Sanchez a $2 million bonus if he was on the roster on March 25. The Jets save more than $8 million by releasing Sanchez, though the quarterback will count as $4.3 million in dead money toward the salary cap this season.
Vick, a former starter in Atlanta and Philadelphia, signed a one-year deal after his contract with the Eagles expired. He lost his starting job to Nick Foles in the middle of last season.
"Maybe I can come here and be an asset whenever my number's called. I'm excited, I'm elated, and I feel like this is a great opportunity for me and my family," Vick told the Jets' website Friday evening.
Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who was Vick's coach for four seasons in Philadelphia, touted Vick's locker room leadership in a statement released by the team Friday evening.
"He's here in a role where he's going to compete and push Geno Smith to become the very best that he can be," Mornhinweg said. "Michael will be able to go in and play at a high level and a winning level if called upon."
The end of the Sanchez era in New York is not a surprise, given the arrival of Smith last season and Sanchez's contract for 2014, but it is still a stunning end to a tenure that started with such promise. The Jets traded up to select Sanchez in the first-round of the 2009 draft, and reached the AFC Championship game in each of Sanchez's first two seasons. Those Jets teams, though, had dominant defenses and strong running games.
Sanchez struggled in 2011 and 2012 – with 18 interceptions each season, along with 16 lost fumbles, then missed all of last year with the shoulder injury suffered in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the New York Giants. The Jets missed the playoffs each of the last three years.
"I'd like to thank Mark for everything he's done for this team and me personally," Jets coach Rex Ryan said in a statement released by the team. "We were rookies together and had some early success, becoming the first rookie head coach and quarterback to go to back-to-back championship games. We experienced a lot together, and I really appreciate Mark. He's a great player, a great teammate, and I wish him nothing but the best."
Now Sanchez will have to try to find a new team in a poor market for quarterbacks. The quarterback-needy Oakland Raiders, linked earlier this month as a potential landing spot for Sanchez, on Friday traded for former Houston starter Matt Schaub. The Texans earlier this week signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and will likely take a quarterback with the No. 1 pick.